Afghan govt failures as dangerous as Taliban: US
Washington: The top US military officer warned that the Afghan government`s credibility problems with its own people posed as serious a threat to US goals in the war-torn country as Taliban fighters.
"I consider the threat from lack of governance to be equal to the threat from the Taliban," Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"The lack of legitimacy in the government at every level" has been a key factor in the return of the Taliban after US-led forces drove them from power after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he said.
Mullen also told the sharply divided US Congress that Washington and its NATO allies will likely need to send thousands more troops and trainers of Afghan security forces to defeat the resurgent Islamist militia.
"We can get there. We can accomplish the mission we`ve been assigned. But we will need resources matched to the strategy," he said, stressing: "A properly resourced counterinsurgency probably means more forces."
Mullen said the top US and NATO military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is likely to submit a formal request for more forces in the next few weeks but that he did not know how many.
Key US lawmakers will receive a briefing on McChrystal`s strategic review on Wednesday, according to congressional sources who said the meeting would also cover efforts to craft new benchmarks to measure progress in the conflict.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that she expected those benchmarks to be finished by September 24.
Mullen told lawmakers he backed calls for increasing training of Afghan security forces, but emphasized that this would not be enough to win the conflict and that such an effort required as many as 2,000-4,000 more trainers on top of the roughly 6,000-6,500 now on the ground.
Asked how many should come from Washington`s NATO allies, Mullen replied: "As many as possible."
The admiral`s testimony to the panel Tuesday came after a new public opinion poll provided fresh evidence that the US public is increasingly turning away from the unpopular eight-year-old conflict.
Support for the war slipped from 42 percent in late August to 39 percent, while opposition edged upwards from 57 percent to 58 percent, according to the survey by CNN television and Opinion Research Corporation.
The survey, which had an error margin of plus or minus three percentage points, came as Obama took heavy fire from Democratic allies over his likely push for pouring additional US forces into Afghanistan`s front lines and from Republicans over what they charge is the sluggish pace of new deployments.
Senator John McCain, the committee`s top Republican, said he was frustrated by a White House announcement Friday that any new troop request will not come for "weeks and weeks," while military officials say the clock is ticking.
McCain also said he disagreed with calls for the panel`s chairman, Democratic Senator Carl Levin, to accelerate the pace and scope of training of Afghan forces before sending more US troops.
Mullen said training was critical to US success but ultimately insufficient to achieving Obama`s goals, announced in a strategic overhaul in March, of quashing the Taliban.
Levin, recently returned from Afghanistan, renewed his call for redoubling efforts to train, equip and deploy Afghan soldiers before any further expansion of the US troop presence, which is set to reach 68,000 by year`s end.
"We need a surge in the numbers and strength of the Afghan security forces," he said. "In the meantime, we should also press our NATO allies much harder to provide more trainers."
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Obama could likely count on support from his Republican critics on Afghanistan if he heeds the advice of the military.
"I think it`s reasonable to assume that, if the president follows the recommendations of our military leaders, he`s likely to enjoy broad Republican support," McConnell told reporters.
Mullen expressed concerns that charges of vote-rigging in Afghanistan`s recent presidential ballot are "not helping" bolster the Kabul government`s standing with the country`s population.
"We could send a million troops, and that will not restore legitimacy to their government. Would you agree with that?" asked Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
"That is a fact," said Mullen, who later warned that corruption "is every bit the threat that the Taliban is."
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- UP: Jammu-bound Muri Express derails in Kaushambi
- Delhi's 2015 CBSE Class 12 topper M Gayatri talks to Zee Media
- Watch: Mumbai cops find new secret agents in housewives!
- One year of Modi govt: PM promises to fulfil aspirations
- No respite from heat for next three days: IMD
- DNA: Sikh man in New Zealand removed his turban to help injured kid
- One year of Modi govt: PM addresses mega rally in Mathura
- Hundreds die as heat wave continues in India
- 2G scam: Ex-TRAI chief alleges Manmohan Singh had warned him to cooperate
- Growing medical negligence in Delhi's AIIMS
- DNA: AIIMS doctor removes both kidneys of minor, claims she had only one
- Pranab Mukherjee defends Bofors scam, says it was just a media trial
- Salman Khan attends sister Arpita's wedding reception in Mandi
- Zee Media's mega survey on Modi govt
- Zee Media Exclusive: Vidya Balan chats about 'Hamari Adhuri Kahani'
- Two dead, over 100 injured as Muri Express derails in UP; Prabhu announces Rs 2 lakhs ex-gratia for kin of dead
- PM Narendra Modi's Mathura rally: As it happened
- Public rally on 100 days of AAP govt: As it happened
- One year of NDA govt: PM Modi writes open letter to nation, promises to transform India
- World optimistic about India: PM Narendra Modi on 1 year of NDA govt
- Unidentified flying objects spotted over Mumbai airport not motorised: Home Department
- Bharatiya Janata Party lacks majority for Ram Temple, Article 370: Amit Shah
- MSBSHSE Class 12th HSC results 2015 to be declared at 1pm tomorrow
- AAP govt moves resolution against MHA notification: As it happened
- China doesn't recognise 'illegal' McMahon Line: Beijing responds to NSA Ajit Doval
- CBSE 10th Results 2015 to be declared on May 27
- Arpita-Aayush wedding reception: Salman Khan spreads love in Mandi, says `hum aapke hain`
- Rahul Gandhi takes a dig at one year of Modi govt, wishes 'happy birthday' to 'suit-boot ki sarkar'
- Is there life after death?